Course Title: Conduct field research into natural and cultural resources

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2016

Course Code: ENVI5076C

Course Title: Conduct field research into natural and cultural resources

School: 155T Vocational Health and Sciences

Campus: City Campus

Program: C5305 - Diploma of Conservation and Land Management

Course Contact: Namrita Kaul

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4309

Course Contact Email:

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

The teacher for this Course is Bruce Partland

Contact details:

Phone: 99258323


Nominal Hours: 200

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

There are none

Course Description

This unit covers the process of conducting field research into natural resource and cultural areas for resource management and related purposes and defines the standard required to: use a range of electronic and manual recording systems to support research; identify stakeholders including current tenure, Indigenous history and community interest; review existing knowledge; develop research objectives, staff, resources and design; conduct field investigations to investigate impacts on fauna, flora and natural resources of the site; report on the field investigation.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

AHCILM501A Conduct field research into natural and cultural resources


1. Review existing knowledge

Performance Criteria:

1.1. Existing information gathered through investigation and enterprise recording processes is examined to determine key features.
1.2. Oral evidence, where it exists, is reviewed.
1.3. Sites are inspected to assess condition and availability of further information.
1.4. Information, records and places previously destroyed or damaged or under threat are identified as factors to be incorporated in the assessment process, strategies and plans.
1.5. Scope of information is assessed for adequacy against the requirements of legislation, Codes of Practice and protocols.
1.6. Appropriate database, geographic information system and other electronic and manual recording systems are identified for data collection according to enterprise procedures.
1.7. Sources of expertise in research environments, identification of pollution, degradation and disturbance, and national and international issues and agreements are identified and accessed within and external to the enterprise.
1.8. Areas of inadequate information are identified and recorded.


2.Identify stakeholders

Performance Criteria:

2.1. Stakeholders are identified in conjunction with local communities and groups, and government documentation and interviews.
2.2. The current and relevant past land tenure for the place/area is investigated and recorded.
2.3. Indigenous interests are determined through culturally appropriate approaches to regional and community organisations and individuals.
2.4. Proper protocols are applied and key consultations conducted in approaches to regional and community organisations and individuals.
2.5. Privacy requirements are complied within, according to the directions of stakeholders and according to legislative and enterprise requirements.
2.6. Process of identifying stakeholders may be completed under the direction of a relevant cultural reference group.


3. Develop research approach

Performance Criteria:

3.1. Objectives of the field research are determined in conjunction with those commissioning the research according to enterprise procedures.
3.2. Objectives are used to identify specific types of investigation, techniques to be used, and physical areas of investigation.
3.3. The types of investigation and techniques selected are assessed for hazards and risks in designated environment, including the special OHS requirements, access issues, and management of the research in a range of weather and area conditions.
3.4. Existing information and data records are reviewed to determine the starting point(s) for the fieldwork.
3.5. Research methodology is consistent with the research objectives and in accordance with established natural resource management practice.
3.6. Required resources are identified to establish and maintain the research program within the required time schedules and are appropriate to the environments that will be encountered.
3.7. Personnel are selected for their competency in research techniques and safe operation in the expected environmental/cultural conditions.
3.8. Stakeholders to be included in the consultation process are identified.
3.9. Costs of field research are estimated and submitted for approval according to enterprise procedures.
3.10. Sampling and recording processes are established for research information according to enterprise requirements, best practice and scientific standards.


4. Conduct field investigations

Performance Criteria:

4.1. Consultation and fieldwork undertaken to obtain information required to meet investigation objectives.
4.2. Previously determined methodology is adjusted in light of progressive results and stakeholder feedback.
4.3. Observations, records and monitoring are in accord with scientific practice and coordinated to meet research objectives.
4.4. Impacts from areas external to area under investigation are identified.
4.5. Equipment, techniques and people deployed to carry out investigations.
4.6. Each field operation is documented and approved according to legislative and enterprise requirements for work in the research environment.
4.7. Where required, appropriate equipment and skills are sourced for the capture, management and sampling of animal species.
4.8. Information is analysed for impact on previously held hypothesis and other resources.


5. Develop process for involving decision makers

Performance Criteria:

5.1. Information on stakeholders is used to determine interests held by organisations, groups and individuals, and cultural dimensions.
5.2. Issues to be addressed with interest groups are defined.
5.3. Consultation and decision-making process is developed to address the issues with individuals, groups and organisations in a culturally appropriate manner.
5.4. Appropriate time is provided for consultative processes within groups and between individuals to occur and to obtain feedback on issues.
5.5. Decision-making group, such cultural reference groups and other groups are formed where assistance is required to direct investigation, access information, to address issues and/or review the significance of place/area.


6. Report on the field investigation

Performance Criteria:

6.1. Stakeholders are consulted on draft findings.
6.2. The basis for the determination of outcomes is documented to legislative requirements, the organisation's policies and practices, and international and national processes.
6.3. The determination of significance is submitted to the organisation and its external review processes, as required by legislation and Codes of Practice.

Learning Outcomes

Details of Learning Activities

1. Classroom-based lectures (see Timetable)

2. Self-directed  research in computer labs, libraries (Koorie Heritage Trust, State and RMIT), usually during class time.

3. Short Field trips during class time

4. One 1 day field trip to Bundoora RMIT to assess Scarred Trees (see Timetable)

5. A compulsory 5 day field trip to conduct research. This will take place from Monday 2nd May - Friday 6th May.

You should plan well in advance to attend this Field Trip. It will difficult to complete the requirements of this Course if you are unable to attend.

Teaching Schedule

Course: ENVI5076C: Conduct field research into natural & cultural resources

Week 1
Introduction to the course
Overview: Aboriginal history with emphasis on Victoria
What are ‘natural’ and ‘cultural resources’? What is a “sacred site”?
Where are you from? (Aboriginal place names; Clan & Language groups; Cultural sites)
Self-guided research into personal history. Computer Room
Week 2
Library research skills: RMIT Library seminar
Worksheet 1: Familiarisation with Resources. (S / NYS)
Online Quiz, Ungraded: S/NYS) Cultural Resources: Cultural resources Toolbox: Stone Tools; Coastal and Freshwater middens, Historic places; Scar Trees etcAssessment 1 (Student oral presentations):
Where I’m from.
Week 3 Field Trip to Bunjilaka
Review the experience of Aboriginal groups in SE Australia
Review worksheet 2
Identify Groups, and topics, for Ass 4 (Small group presentations)

Week 4
Review existing knowledge / Sources of knowledge
Visit to State Library (Readings, oral histories, old photos, Diaries, Reports, Historic artwork, manuscripts, settlement of Melbourne.etc.
Developing a research approach: Seminar
Protocols for communication; Identifying stakeholders; Permissions; Hunting down resources / Accessing research material; What is cultural appropriation?
Week 5
Conducting Field investigations: Preliminary research (Wurundjeri)
First Australians DVD
Introduction to Readings: Presland; etc.
Small Group Presentations (1st tranche)
Ass 3.1 Relevant Heritage & land title legislation
Ass 3.2 Dark Emu: the case for Aboriginal agriculture
Ass 3.3 Scar trees: their significance and diagnostic properties
Week 6
Wurundjeri: Cultural awareness 1/2 Day
Reflection on Cultural awareness day
Online Discussion forum (2.2)

Week 7 Follow up to Reflection on Cultural awareness day
Develop a research approach for the assessment of Scarred trees at Bundoora RMIT
Group activity, with resources including 1. Identified Scar trees (map); 2. Scar tree brochure 3. Scar Tree Manual 4. Photos
Small group presentations (2nd tranche)
Ass 3.4 Traditional diet and food preferences of Australian hunter gatherers
Ass 3.5 Aboriginal habitations: the Aboriginal architecture of Australia

Week 8
Field Trip :Conducting Field Investigations (2)- Bundoora RMIT Site visit (10am-3pm):
Cultural site recognition, recording and conservation (Scarred Trees)

Working on research project (Assessment 2)
Assessment 2 Research project Bundoora Scarred trees

 Week 9
Legislation: Native Title: The Eddie Mabo story and beyond..
The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2008 (AAV Guest speaker)
2 views of Native Title: Gary Foley and Noel Pearson.
Koorie Heritage Trust: Collections, Purpose, research facilities.


Week 10
Student research exercise: RAP’s, Native Title, NT Rights and Interests
Maps, Cultural maps, cultural iconography-dreaming paths and trading routes
Mapping exercise using Google Maps
Small group presentations ( 3rd tranche: 3.6 ;3.7)
Ass 3.6 Volcanism in the Western District
Ass 3.7 Drystone walls of the Western District

Week 11
Research existing knowledge 1 (Gunditjmara)
Some History: Critchett; Pascoe; GA Robinson and others.
Archaeology: Coutts, Lourandos and others
EVC’s; Interactive Biodiversity maps; Transient resources: Plants and animal resources
Human imposed patterns on the landscape; Housing; History; Vegetation patterns; Geology; Clan estates;; etc
Student presentations (4th tranche: 3.8; 3.9)
Ass 3.8 Soldier settlement in Victoria
Ass 3.9 The Eumeralla War
Field Trip organization : (Group exercise)
What to bring; Responsibilities; Introduction to Condah Report

Week 12
5 Day Field Trip to Gunditjmara Country
Attendance is compulsory for this Field trip
Nightly discussion groups are also compulsory
Small group presentations:
Ass 3.10 The natural history of the short finned eel (Tuesday night)
Ass 3.11 Seasonal use of resources in the Western District (Wednesday night)

Week 13 
Ass 2.3 Reflection on Field Trip (Online Discussion 2.3)
Reflection on Field Trip (Gunditjmara):

Week 14
Research existing Knowledge 2. (Gunditjmara):
Relationships between Geology, Season and resource availability
Intro to Aboriginal use of Fire Readings
Fire behaviour in the Australian environment
Small group presentation:
Ass 3.12 Firestick farming: use, effects, management
Guest speaker (TBA
Review knowledge 3: SW Victoria- a cultural landscape?

Week 15
Seminar: An alternative perspective on history
Guest speakers (TBA)

Worksheet 5: Fire as a cultural tool

Week 16

Discussion Forum 2.4 Final reflection on Course (incl last week’s presentations)

Self directed learning (Working on Major Report) 



Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or accident? by Bruce Pascoe


The people of Budj Bim: Engineers of aquaculture, builders of stone house settlements and warriors defending Country, by the Gunditjmara people with Gib Wettenhall



The following References provide a good background to the Course, and some aspects of Victorian Aboriginal history and land -use patterns. They will be introduced at appropriate times during the Semester.

Presland, Gary, First People: The Eastern Kulin of Melbourne, Port Phillip and Central Victoria, Melbourne: Museum Victoria, 2010

Eidelson, Meyer, The Melbourne Dreaming: A Guide to the Aboriginal Places of Melbourne, Canberrra, Aborignal Studies Press, 1997

Sherwood J, Critchett J and O’Toole, K. Settlement of the Western District, From pre-historic times to the present. (Proceedings of a public lecture series held in Warrnambool, 3rd October 1984)

O’Dea, Kerin. Traditional diet and food preferences of Australian Aboriginal hunter-gatherers. Phil.Trans. R.Soc. London (1991)

Gott, Beth. Fire as a management tool in South-eastern Australia. Conference Proceedings, Australian Bushfire Conference, Albury, July 1999.

Gott, Beth and Conran, J. Victorian Koorie Plants-Some plants used by Victorian Koories for food, fibre, medicines and implements.  Yangennanock Women's Group, Aboriginal Keeping Place, Hamilton, Vic 1991

Gunditjmara people with Gib Wettenhall. The people of Budj Bim:Engineers of aquaculture, builders of stone house settlements and warriors defending country. em Press, 2010.

Gammage, Bill. The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia. Allen & Unwin, 2011

Other Resources

’The First Australians’ DVD set will give you an excellent background to Aboriginal history and issues. Includes a good overview of Wurundjeri (Woiwurrung) and Coranderrk.

’The Making of 10 canoes’ (Rolf de Heer) provides a fascinating study in the necessary protocols to be followed when researching or otherwise working with Indigenous communities.

The ’Cultural Resource Management Toolbox’ available online at

Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course may include reports, individual and group project work, tests  and assignments

Assessment Tasks


A. Ungraded Assessments (S/NYS) (Note: It is a requirement of the Course that you complete all Ungraded Assessments. They are necessary for the completion of subsequent Assessment tasks.
i. Worksheets: A number of Worksheets will be completed during class or fieldtrips. (See list below).
ii. Assessment 1: Where I’m from (Ungraded- S/ NYS) (Peer assessed presentation using Marking Rubric supplied)

B. Graded Assessments

Assessment 2: (10%) Contribution to four Online Discussion Forums on Blackboard : (2.5 marks each) (Self assessed using supplied Rubric.)
Discussion Forum 1: Research protocols (9th March)
Discussion forum 2: Reflection on Wurundjeri cultural awareness experience (23rd March)
Discussion forum 3: Reflection on Lake Condah / Heywood / Gunditjmara Field Trip (11th May)
Discussion Forum 4: Final reflection on Course (25th May)

Assessment 3: (10% final mark) Small Group presentations
 9/3; 23/3; 20/4; 27/4; Camp-18/5
Topics will be allocated in Week 3 (Peer & teacher assessed)
Students will be expected to summarise main points of all student Presentations in a Logbook

Assessment 4: (30% final mark)
22 April Research Project: Bundoora scarred trees

Assessment 5: (10% final mark)

Logbook: Your Logbook should contain (i) A detailed summary of all 12 Small Group presentations (ii) A summary of each day’s activities during the 5 day Field Trip. Due the week following Heywood field trip. These will be returned to you to aid in the writing of the final report.

Assessment 6 (40% final mark)
25th May Major Report based on Heywood Field Trip (40%)

Ungraded Worksheets (S/NYS) (Completed in Class & peer assessed)
17th Feb Worksheet 1: Familiarisation with Library Resources
24th Feb Worksheet 2: Bunjilaka: The experience of SE Australian Kooris
2nd March Worksheet 3: State Library resources 
13th April Worksheet 4: Legislation
25th May Worksheet 5: Fire- its effects and uses

C. Not only but also:
Each week a student will be nominated to research on Online job advertisement (eg. NRM jobs) and present to the class. You will research the Position Description of a job that interests you, for whatever reason, and assess the skills necessary to fulfil the job requirement. (S/NYS)

Assessment Matrix

Other Information

Assessment information

  • Extension of time for submission of assessable work- A student may apply for an extension of up to 7 days from the original due date. They must lodge the application form (available on the web ) at least the day before the due date. The application is lodged with the School Admin Office on Level 6, Bdg 51. Students requiring longer extensions must apply for Special Consideration (form available on the Web). For missed assessments such as exams- you (& your doctor if you are sick) must fill out a special consideration form. This form must be lodged at the HUB or online with supporting evidence (eg medical certificate), prior to, or within, 48 hours of the scheduled time of examination.
  • Late work that is submitted without an application for an extension will not be corrected
  • If you miss an assessment task due to unavoidable circumstances, you need to follow the procedure of special consideration and apply within the allowed time frame.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview